"Best" Beethoven 9 Symphonies Recording, Digital


Howdy,
I'm hoping to zero in on the combination "best" of sound/recording quality and, of course, performance.
I did a search here on Agon and the last posting was in 2003, so perhaps there's a new pressing, mastering or even performance. 
I've been a prog-rock, blues, grateful dead type of guy most of my life but have recently started appreciating the symphonic/classical genre. These guys, ie. Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi etc, were really something else, that two to three hundred years after their compositions, so many of the works are still so powerful. Remarkable.
I do most if not all my non-classical listening on a ARC Ref series tube amp set-up, with a Basis 2800 tt and Raidho C1.1s, but for classical I've gone digital with headphones. The truly awesome Stax Sr-009 electrostat headphones through a Blue Hawaii headphone tube amp running through a Schiit multibit dac, all I can say is wow. So seeking out the best recordings, because what else is there to do :)
Thanks!
moryoga
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Like everything else, peoples taste in Beethoven varies wildly, but I can heartily recommend John Eliot Gardiner's Beethoven.  The classical music show on NPR called Performance Today broadcasted a live performance of Gardiner conducting Beethoven 5 some years ago ...........it was the first orchestral performance of Beethoven that really grabbed me.  I've tried many other interpretations but always go back to Gardiner.

SQ on these recordings is quite good too.....

https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Symphonies-Ludwig-van/dp/B003DEIZBQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1473...  
Conductors have different approaches to interpreting Beethoven’s symphonies. Beethoven used metronome notations on his scores, so some performances reflect these quick tempos (Gardiner), while other conductors use a larger orchestra and slower tempi.

Rene Leibowitz/Royal Philharmonic on Chesky Records has outstanding SQ, and follows the faster historically accurate pacing.
Really incredible Redbook CD sound, ADD.

Barenboim "The Nine Symphonies" on Warner Classics (Teldec) is a boxed set with excellent sound. These interpretations use a large orchestra and a slower, romantic tempo. DDD.

Some call John Eliot Gardiner’s recordings the "definitive Beethoven." These are dynamic performances which follow Beethoven’s notations for quicker pacing than most modern performances.
I think both interpretations should be experienced.
Von Karajan's 1963 cycle on DG is one of the best to me, if you can still find it.  Of modern recordings, I really like Vanska's cycle with the Minnesota Orchestra on the Bis label.  Not sure if you're looking for downloads or discs (the two I mention are on disc, Vanska's is a hybrid SACD), as I have no knowledge on what's available for download..
A lot of choices.  Szell is excellent and dirt cheap.  The venerable Krips/LSO cycle was recorded on 35 mm (film) tape and sounds great in current remastering.  The Von Karajan 1963 cycle is a classic and sounds great on Blu Ray.
  More modern well recorded more modern cycles that I own are Vanska/Minnesota and Herrweghe with a Flemish Orchestra  both in SACD but if you have Surround Sound you really ought to sample the Tacet cycle with a Polish Conductor and Chamber Orchestra which unabashedly places the listener in the middle of the Orchestra and reveals fascinating details
I like the version from the Penguin guide recommended box set of Gunter Wand and the NDR Symphony.

Also Ferenc Fricsay’s version on DG with the Berliner Philharmoniker is enjoyable on vinyl.
Interpretations are very subjective, and all the above nominees have their devotees. Bernstein is another favorite, but the sound of his Columbia Records recordings are not so hot. Gunter Wand does the Beethoven Symphonies very well, sort of between the "romantic" version of Bruno Walter and the period "correct" ones by Gardiner and Herreweghe, both of which I have and love. Wand's recordings, on German Harmonia Mundi, are, as a bonus, pretty darn good.
Thanks for all the great insight and recommendations. Seems like I have some shopping to do :)
I have the Berstein and the Karajan. They are both great performances but, as mentioned, sq is not stellar. 
I’m a fan of Karajan’s 1963 cycle. The remastered box set is fantastisch, with good remastering, but is not top sound quality.
I highly recommend it, but you are looking for the best SQ. Vanska/Minn. is a high quality modern recording.
@moryoga
You didn’t say if you were looking for CD’s or downloads, but every Beethoven collector should have Carlos Kleiber’s version of Symphony no. 5. It is magnificent, one of the greatest 5th’s ever recorded. Also contains a very good Symphony no. 7.

Recorded in 1975 on analogue tape by DG, it doesn’t suffer from the over-miking that became the standard for recording an orchestra. It also has plenty of concert hall ambience; it’s a real "you are there" performance.

Carlos Kleiber/Vienna Philharmonic Redbook...
https://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Symphonies-Nos-5-7/dp/B000001GPX

There is also a new SACD version, which is said to be remastered.

Recommendations of either downloads or cd's are appreciated. Thanks!
Many consider the Furtwangler recording during the war years (1942 version) as one of the best, if not the best, ever. The recording quality is not up to modern standards, but the pure drive and emotion is hard to beat. Should be in anyone's collection if they are serious about Beethoven's 9th. His 1951 Bayreuth  version is also recommended - better recording and better soprano. The 1942 version is available as part of a boxed set. Not sure if it is easily available on CD otherwise.

In the end, there is no best 9th. The interpretation is key and the quality of the soprano is critical to many. Many find Furtwangler slow and ponderous, others find him the true master. You need to decide for yourself.

https://www.amazon.com/Furtwangler-Conducts-Beethoven-Symphonies-Overtures/dp/B00001W09Z